South Shore Oahu Beaches | Hanauma Bay
One of the best Oahu beaches (or even in all of Hawaii) to snorkel or dive is Hanauma Bay. Experienced divers would probably disagree and scoff at Hanauma Bay but it probably is the best place to learn in the state.
First of all, it is protected from the surf by the bay itself...and it is a nature preserve meaning there is no fishing allowed so there is a ton of marine life to explore. Factor in the shallow sandy areas next to the reefs that allow easy access to see fish for even the non-swimmer and you've got the perfect spot to give it a shot for the first time. Just ask my 4 year old or my niece...
More experienced divers can venture out past the inside reef and have it feel as though they have the whole ocean to themselves.
The thing that stinks is that Oahu beaches are supposed to be free, but somehow they managed to start charging here a few years back. Part of the reason was to protect the bay since the reefs were getting damaged by having so many visitors walk and sit on the reefs among other things. That actually kills the reef so it is also now closed on Tuesdays to help Hanauma Bay recover.
Another thing they have implemented to help the bay is everyone is now required to watch an educational video before entering the beach...the video explains proper etiquette on how to preserve the marine life...mainly not stepping or sitting on the reef. You can put your name on a list so if you come back within a year, you don't have to watch the video again, but other than that, you have to watch the 10 minute video. However, you have to get a ticket for the next movie with space in it so you may have to wait around in the exhibit area depending on how many people are ahead of you.
Cost--$7.50 for those 13 years old and over. Children under 13, Hawaii residents, and military stationed in Hawaii are free. Parking is $1 and there also is a trolley available from the parking lot down to the beach for $1 per person each way. It is a short walk but the trolley is nice if you have a lot of stuff to carry.
Hours--Generally open from 6:00 a.m. to sunset and later on Saturdays. Call (808) 396-4229 for current hours and conditions. Closed on Tuesdays
- Sandy and reef areas
- Equipment rental
- Picnic tables
- Concession stand
Tip--The parking lot is fairly large but it tends to fill up so go early or later in the afternoon.
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